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The Door Gods
Dear Hakka Friends,
Even nowadays many Hakka homes are still sticking
the pictures of Door Gods on to their front doors.
Do you know the story behind this tradition?
The Door Gods
During the reign of Tai Zong (627AD to 649AD) the second Emperor of
the Tang Dynasty (618AD to 907AD), there lived a dragon king, who was in
charge of the rain, in a river called Jinghe in the province of Gansu. He
had an old friend by the name of Yuan Shou-Cheng and they had been
friends for many years.
One day while they were drinking and having friendly chats the dragon
king laid a bet with his friend that he could delay the time for raining by
an hour and reduced the quantity of rain by about one tenth.
Several days later the time for raining had indeed been delayed and the
quantity of rain fell on earth reduced. Wei Zheng, the officer in charge
of recording in the Tang Court, was disturbed by the unusual raining
pattern. He conducted an investigation and found out that the dragon king
had manipulated the weather pattern. Wei Zheng had the dragon king put on
trial for causing a lot sufferings to the people due to the shortage of
rain. Dragon king was sentenced to death by execution which would be
carried out at three o'clock in the afternoon three days after the
That night dragon king appeared in Emperor Tai Zong's dream asking for
help. He told the Emperor the whole affairs and begged him to stop his
official, Wei Zheng for carried out the execution. The Emperor promised
him that he would stop Wei Zheng from leaving the palace on the execution
On the day of execution and after lunch Emperor Tai Zong summoned Wei
Zheng to the palace. Shortly after, Wei Zong arrived at the palace. In
order to keep Wei Zong in the palace the Emperor asked him to play chess.
They were happily playing chess. However, just before three o'clock Wei
Zheng felt asleep on the chess table. Emperor Tai Zong did not wake him
up but waited there watching him snoring. The Emperor was happy because he
knew Wei Zheng would miss the appointed time for the execution of the
dragon king. But the Emperor did not know that although Wei Zheng was
asleep his dream rushed to Jinghe River and beheaded the dragon king.
That night the headless ghost of dragon king came to the Emperor's
chamber and made eery shriek noises demanding the Emporer to return his
life. The ghost accused the Emperor for breaking his promise. The Emperor
told the ghost that he did not let Wei Zheng leave the palace that
afternoon and Wei Zheng was sleeping on the chess table in front of him
and it was not possible that Wei Zheng had executed him. But the ghost
insisted that he was executed at three o'clock in the afternoon. Suddenly
the Emperor realized that Wei Zheng had executed the dragon king in his
dream. But it was too late and the dragon king was already dead.
Night after night the ghost of dragon king came to the Emperor's chamber
where he slept, demanding for the return of his life. It was impossible for
Emperor Tai Zong to sleep while the ghost was haunting and howling outside
his chamber. Strangely, no one could hear the howling except Emperor Tai
Zong. He could not stand the disturbances every night and he became ill.
All the physicians in the Court could not cure him.
Qin Shu-Bao and Wei Chi Jing-De, the two generals, heard the news that
the Emperor was sick and being disturbed by a ghost. That evening they
came to the palace with full military uniforms to see the Emperor. They
told the Emperor that they would stay on guard at the palace doors during
That night the Emperor did not hear any howling. He presumed that the
ghost was afraid of his two generals. Night after night the two generals
stayed at the doors of the chamber and the ghost did not appear. But the
Emperor could not allow his generals to stay on guard every night. So he
ordered an artist to draw the portrays of the two generals and sticked
them on the doors of his chamber. Eventually the ghost disappeared and the
Emperor's illness was cured.
News about the portrays of the two generals and the ghost spread far and
wide in the country and other artists drew the pictures of the two generals
and sold them for money. People bought the pictures and sticked them on
their doors in order to stop any potential ghost entering their houses.
People named the pictures as door gods and it became a tradition of sticking
the pictures of these two generals on their doors.
Even nowadays, after more than 1300 years later, many people are still
following the tradition.
A Chinese folklore
CHUNG Yoon-Ngan. email@example.com